|Vol. 20, No. 19||October 15, 1998|
Dr. Ferid Murad Awarded Nobel Prize in Medicine
Ferid Murad, M.D., Ph.D., and two other U.S. pharmacologists have been named the winners of this year's Nobel Prize in Medicine. They received the award for their discoveries about the functions of nitric oxide - a colorless, odorless gas - in the human body.
Dr. Murad, chairman of the department of integrative biology, pharmacology and physiology at The University of Texas-Houston Medical School, got the news at 4 a.m. on Monday, October 12, when the secretary of the Nobel Prize committee notified him by phone. He recounted the events later that morning at a press conference where he said he hadn't had time to let the news absorb yet, but described his reaction as "delighted and excited."
"It is fantastic to be recognized by one's peers," said Dr. Murad. "And this is a sign, too, that UT-Houston is maturing as a research institution. I hope this award benefits the institution."
Dr. Murad, who came to the UT-Houston Medical School in April 1997, has conducted research on nitric oxide since he was at the University of Virginia in the mid-1970s.
The discoveries about nitric oxide's effects on the human body have many medical applications. For example, researchers now know that nitric oxide sends cues to smooth muscle cells in blood vessels signaling them to relax and widen, an action which lowers blood pressure. This finding may have an important impact on the treatment of heart disease.
Dr. Murad said nitric oxide has also proved beneficial in premature infants whose lungs have not fully developed. "By giving them very low levels of nitric oxide, it gets them through the critical time," he said.
Dr. Murad shares his award with Dr. Robert Furchgott, of the State University of New York in Brooklyn, and Dr. Louis J. Ignarro, of the University of California-Los Angeles. The award presentation will take place December 10 in Stockholm.
This is only the second time someone from the Texas Medical Center has won the Nobel Prize in Medicine. Dr. Roger Guillemin received the honor in 1977 for work conducted at Baylor College of Medicine.
The Texas Medical Center News will have more on Dr. Murad and his research in the November 1 issue.
- KRISTINA VAN ARSDEL
©2006 Texas Medical Center